Just a few years ago, I read more than 50 books a year every year. A book a week and then some. It felt so good. But in the last couple years books have been sorely lacking in my life. Too much work. Too many family commitments. Sigh, how can there be work-life balance without books?
Recently I've found myself back in a book groove, despite even more work and no shortage of family happenings. It feels great. I remember now that I enjoy work and life so much more when books are a priority.
Books have always been such a big part of my life. I remember when I was really little my mom proudly asking our local librarian if I could check out a stack of books nearly as tall as I was. (I could.) My first ever job was at that very same public library. Whenever I've moved to a new city, one of my first tasks has been getting my library card. My first ever corporate communications job was for a worldwide distributor of books. At my last job, which was at a bank, I started a book club, and we read novels, not boring business books. So, yeah, I like books.
Even if you disregard personal satisfaction, reading and being well read are important for you professionally, especially if you are a writer (duh). Books expand your horizons and knowledge and give you more things to talk with more people about. In fact, recently while on vacation, the only "work" I did was post to my business Facebook page images of books I was reading and a few of my thoughts. These posts turned out to be really popular, sparking a lot of great conversation and providing new books for my to-read list. You'd be surprised how even novels and memoirs can inform or inspire your work.
Here are three recent books I've read and that I'd recommend this summer.
1. Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own Terms, by Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson
This is the first book by the hosts of the "Being Boss" podcast for entrepreneurs in creative fields. It's a mix of affirmation, pep talk and practical advice for how to maintain and grow your business and otherwise be "boss." I especially liked the list making that the authors do to help determine if they should keep doing something.
I'm going to take time to list "what's working," "what's kind of working" and "what's not working." This book has short, digestible stories and a beautiful layout that made it fun to read cover to cover while lounging at the pool. For more on this book and these Bosses, check out the column I wrote earlier this month.
2. So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know, by Retta
The comedian known for her role as Donna on NBC's "Parks & Rec" cracks wise about her unusual path to fame -- from growing up in New Jersey, being raised by immigrant parents and living with a household full of relatives to graduating from Duke University and working as pharmaceutical chemist and then becoming a stand-up comedian. Retta me feel like anything is possible. She also made me think that perhaps I too deserve a $15,000 handbag. Darn you, Retta.
3. Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith and Resilience, by Allison Pataki
This is a memoir by a journalist, novelist and daughter of former New York governor George Pataki. It's about life following her husband's near-fatal stroke, which happened on a plane when they were just 30 years old and she was five months pregnant. This uplifting book is a reminder that anything really is possible and that there's so much more to life than work or everyday, mundane worries.
Life is a joy. And, as such, I will be reading more books.